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Appeals court sides with Texas, allows temporary ban on abortions

A federal appeals court says the temporary abortion ban in Texas will stay in place while a case challenging it plays out in the courts. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
A federal appeals court says the temporary abortion ban in Texas will stay in place while a case challenging it plays out in the courts. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

March 31 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court on Tuesday said Texas' temporary ban on abortions during the coronavirus pandemic can continue.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower judge's ruling Monday that lifted the ban. The appeals court's decision sides with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's ban on abortions while the case works its way through the courts.

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Abbott banned all non-medically necessary abortions in the state in a March 22 executive order forcing all healthcare professionals to postpone elective surgeries and other medical procedures.

One of the three judges on the appeals panel dissented.

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"A federal judge has already concluded that irreparable harm would flow from allowing the executive order to prohibit abortions during this critical time," Judge James Dennis wrote.

The Center for Reproductive Rights -- which, along with the Lawyering Project and Planned Parenthood, represented abortion providers in the court case -- said the appeals court ruling puts Texas "in a perilous position."

"How heartless do you have to be to, in a time of crisis, take extraordinary measures to take away people's health care?" said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting CEO of Planned Parenthood. "Abortion is essential healthcare, and it is urgent and time-sensitive. While people everywhere are trying to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, politicians like Gov. Abbott continue this perverse obsession with banning abortion."

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton welcomed the 5th Circuit's ruling Tuesday.

"I thank the court for their immediate and careful attention to the health and safety needs of Texans suffering from the spread of COVID-19. The temporary stay ordered this afternoon justly prioritizes supplies and personal protective equipment for the medical professionals in need," he said. "The governor's order temporarily halting unnecessary medical procedures, including abortion, applies to all health care facilities and professionals equally as Texans come together to combat this medical crisis."

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